Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lakulisa - Founder of Pasupata Siddanta of Saurashtra

Lakulisa With Vishnu and Brahma
 At the foothills of the great Kalikadevi temple at Pavagadh Gujarat, situated in Saurashtra; there is a sprawling peaceful lake dotted with temples displaying the splendor of Saurashtra.

The Name Lakulisa probably derived from Sourashtra language word :
Lakuda + Esha
ie.  Lord Esha (Siva) Having a stick in hand.

Driving down during the monsoon time can indeed change the mood of the land such that it almost feels like divinity descended on earth in a chariot of mist. And here among rocky hillsides strewn with huge boulders lie one of India's most ancient temples now in ruins - Lakulisa temple. This temple dates back to the 10th century though the cult of Lakulisa existed well into the 1 cen.A.D and has been mentioned the Mahabharata.

This delapidated temple holds the iconography of Lord Shiva thought it houses Lakulisa within its walls. Among its very rare and fine sculptures one can see Dakshinamurthy Shiva, Ganesha and Gajantaka Shiva. Most of the upper half of the temple has fallen off and merged with the surrounding boulders leaving standing walls with intricate sculptures to show the original spendor of this great cult icon.

Lakulisa was the founder of Pashupata Shaivism which was one of the oldest and prominent Shaivite schools that existed in the early 1 cen A.D, though dating it is still uncertain. Lakulisa's school of Pashupata Shaivism originated at Kayavarohan in Saurashtra and extended to Payar in Kashmir and Orissa in the east. It later spread far and wide and penetrated into Tamil Nadu in the 7th to 14th cen A.D.

Lakulisa was born in Gujarat, and when a little boy, was struck by illness and given up as dead. He was taken to the ghats to be cremated, when he is supposed to have "come back to life". He asked the people to leave him, and grew up in the ghats, with special mystical and spiritual powers.

Lakulisa's images are found all over India indicating that his cult was very well established. The Pashupatas were ascetics and were followers of the Bhakti movement. Lakulisa was almost considered an incarnate of Lord Shiva during his time.  His teachings are codified in the Lakulisa Siddhanta, while in his images he is represented in Dharmachakrapravartana mudra with a Lakuta / Laguda (விறகு) (stick) in one arm. His main desciples were Kausika, Gargya, Mitraka and Rusta.

What was this cult all about? Kaundinya in one of his commentaries on the Pashupata Sutras says that Lord Shiva taking the form of a Brahman as an incarnate at Kayavatarana, went on foot to ujjain and taught his doctrine to Bhagavat Kushika. The Pashupata doctrine was revealed by Lakulisa, the last of the 28 incarnations of Shiva. The worship of Shiva included strange practices which involved bathing in sand and holy ash thrice a day and living in isolation.   What ever their practices and whether it conformed to the society at large, this once popular cult lost its dynamic presence and ceased to exist till today in its original known form.

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